It's More Than an Electronic Health Record - Call It a "Health Information Highway"
Healthcare Policyby RJ Eskow March 3, 2009 - 11:02am
".....Paradoxically, computerizing the health system in this country could make it much more humane than it is today. But that calls for a broad vision of health IT as an "information highway" that stores information, looks for problems, and eases the many routine interactions that make up the health system. A well-designed "health highway" would have features like these:
A common set of programming specifications for coding, storing, sharing, and manipulating health information. Just as XML (eXtensible Markup Language) allowed web designers to create sites that interact with one another, a health markup language or "HML" could allow systems used by doctors, hospitals, patients, and others to easily "talk" with one another.
The ability for systems to "look for" adverse medical reactions together. Certain harmless drugs become deadly in combination with other drugs, or when a person has other medical conditions. One way this technology could be used is to automatically look for these interactions every time a prescription is electronically "written."
Personal convenience. A doctor recommended minor surgery for me last week. What if her office had been able to schedule an appointment for me on the spot, send me a before-and-after personal care plan (tailored to my medical history), pre-authorized the treatment -- and checked my health plan to tell me how much it was going to cost me?
More privacy than we have today. I began tracking health privacy breaches a couple of years ago, but had to stop -- because they're too frequent. Laptops get stolen with medical information on them, storage disks get misplaced, or computers get hacked. (I wrote a paper about potential criminal uses of stolen medical data, but decided not to publish it ...) A comprehensive health IT system would include better protections for health data.
Tools for primary care doctors to manage your health. US and Canadian primary care doctors - the ones who should be managing your overall health -- have historically lagged behind their European counterparts in some vital IT capabilities. Health reform depends on stronger primary care - and health IT can help.
Automatic claim submission. Why shouldn't the health IT network automatically submit my claim after I've received medical treatment? Why shouldn't it tell me how far I've gone in meeting my deductible, and share any other financial information I might need? Our current system is too clerical, too bureaucratic, and too difficult to navigate....."